Tuesday 9 June 2020

Favourite Books #10

Speaking of Wittgenstein…then there’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson (1988).

As David Foster Wallace wrote in a piece for Salon in 1999, ‘Overlooked - Five direly underappreciated U.S. novels >1960’:

W’s M is a dramatic rendering of what it would be like to live in the sort of universe described by logical atomism. A monologue, formally very odd, mostly one-sentences. Tied with Omensetter’s Luck for the all-time best U.S. book about human loneliness. These wouldn’t constitute ringing endorsements if they didn’t happen all to be simultaneously true — i.e., that a novel this abstract and erudite and avant-garde that could also be so moving makes Wittgenstein’s Mistress pretty much the high point of experimental fiction in this country.’

Wallace also wrote a wonderful essay on the novel, ‘The Empty Plenum: David Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress’, which is available in his non-fiction collection Both Flesh And Not, and is linked below.

Incidentally, Markson also wrote a great chapter-by-chapter, full-length study of Under The Volcano (choice #2, remember?) called Malcolm Lowry’s Volcano, which is well worth seeking out. The good guys, and girls (should) stick together.

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